According to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), a new transport plan that has been proposed by Kent County Council is set to have huge benefits for haulage company managers and truck drivers too. |
There are 10 priorities that have been highlighted in the transport plan, and all are significant in terms of the development of the national infrastructure.
The Priorities Include:
• A new Lower Thames Crossing • A Dover Western Docks expansion scheme • Solving the issues with Operation Stack • More efficient management of traffic that involves taking port traffic on both the M2 and M20 • An overnight lorry parking site The FTA Input
Natalie Chapman, who is in charge of policy at the FTA for the London and South East region, has categorically said that the proposed plan recognises that many of the issues are particularly important for Kent and should be considered a priority. While parking, for example, is an issue for truck drivers wanting to take a break - no matter where in the country they are - on the approach to Dover there is limited safe parking and this is causing huge problems.
She has also acknowledged that a decision needs to be made as soon as possible with regards to the Lower Thames Crossing and the updates on the A2. Operation Stack is the procedure currently used by Kent Police to park lorries on the M20 when there is disruption at the Eurotunnel or ferry services at Dover. This is to be aided by the construction of a lorry parking area at Stanford.
It is clear that once Operation Stack is dealt with and traffic moving towards the port is better managed, freight will be less likely to get delayed and the flow of trucks should remain uninterrupted. This is particularly good news for truck drivers who can look forward to fewer interrupted journeys.
If a newer Lower Thames Crossing were built in its planned location (to the east of Gravesend), the M2 and the A2 would both become the favoured routes for Dover port traffic. Dover itself would then be relieved from the heavy flow of freight, as it would no longer be the through-road. The town of Dover would then have the opportunity to be regenerated and given a new injection of life, which many argue it desperately needs.
A Huge Task
Priorities are one thing but putting these into practice is going to take planning and time. If traffic is to be encouraged to use the A2, this road will have to be expanded to at least two lanes. This update must be done before the Lower Thames Crossing is opened and, according to Natalie Chapman, must be a key consideration for Highways England in the next Roads Investment Strategy for 2020-2025.
How Will Businesses Be Affected?
Once these alterations are put into place, freight travelling to Europe would do so in a much more efficient manner - especially if the expansion at the Western Docks goes ahead. More capacity for freight traffic can only be a good thing, especially as the industry is set to continue expanding. Kent is, after all, a major gateway to the continent and many companies rely on this crossing for business. Keeping freight moving by minimising the need for truck drivers to queue and for freight to be held for extended periods of time is great news for managers of haulage companies.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Haulage Exchange provides services for matching truck drivers with available haulage jobs. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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